By Staff Reporter
Members of NGO Transparency Now, met President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday to discuss pending issues and the possible creation of a coordinating body against corruption.
Speaking on behalf of the group following the meeting at the presidential palace, University of Cyprus professor Stavros Zenios said they felt positive about the cabinet’s bill on transparency for politicians’ earnings and expected the political party leaders to approve the bill “to close this very sad chapter for our country and our economy”.
The government bill promoting transparency based on the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, the GRECO Commission, was due to be passed last year but has seen repeated delays with no adoption date on the cards.
GRECO has long established a set of guidelines to help fight corruption by imposing transparency on the financial backing of parties.
The House Legal Affairs committee said last month it aimed to see the bill passed and a constitutional amendment relating to government officials’ obligation to declare their sources of wealth by the summer.
Cyprus was slammed in a 2011 GRECO report for its poor performance in harmonising with the anti-corruption guidelines. The emergence of local group Transparency Now has led to a rise in public pressure for the government and parties to carry out reform of the system.
Transparency Now, a coalition of civil organisations, has been pushing for greater transparency in disclosure.
One of their key demands is a ban on anonymous contributions to parties.
A number of MPs and ministers have voluntarily disclosed details of their finances in recent years. The latest was DISY Leader Averof Neophytou on Monday.
According to the numbers Neophytou is worth over €2 million but said he owed €1.7 million to seven banks. Neohytou said he released the figures in the interests of transparency but also to help disperse rumours about his financial and business dealings.
Zenios said they had also discussed with Anastasiades on Tuesday the creation of a Coordinating Body
Against Corruption and had asked other organisations concerned with issues of transparency to make concrete proposals. “We expect this issue to proceed,” said Zenios.
He said also discussed was the creation of e-petitions, a procedure by which the public can collected 5,000 signatures, which can oblige the executive or the parliament to discuss certain requests and provide answers.